Category Archives: health

Ten More Days

On Friday they measured (and then remeasured) my healing progress. I healed 1.5 cm over the course of the last week. The wound care doctor asked me if I’d like to have the Vac off once I run out of supplies.

Yes, please. Very much so.

As of today, that will be 10 days from now. Maybe sooner if I get lucky.

Yesterday started out dreary. Ms. Roommate and I took out Sophie-dog for a walk. I snapped a picture just before the first mist started falling. We turned around shortly after this as the rain kept getting heavier. I tucked the Bellysucker 9000 into my rain coat to keep it dry and we got back to the car damp, but no worse for wear as the clouds opened up and the real rain begain.

We skipped the Tweed Ride. Temperatures didn’t get much above 50 and the rain barely let up all day long. Watching the traffic go by as we at lunch at a favorite local restaurant, Ms. Roommate remarked that the day could be worse: We could be on a Tweed ride.

That became the theme of Saturday: This is great because we’re still not on a tweed ride.

When we decided that maybe trying to ride bikes with a medical device and the accompanying tubing wasn’t a great plan, I understood the wisdom of making the choice. It still disappointed me to have to make the choice. I enjoy biking and this whole summer has been something of a bust for me on that front.

Saturday I felt extremely happy we’d decided not to go on the ride. Riding in wool in the rain sounds like a recipe for misery to me. Imagining the prospect as cold rain came down with more and more force made the prospect even less appealing.

We wandered through Aldi, which was packed. I still wasn’t on a Tweed Ride.

I got a cup of hot tea and watched rain fall through the windows. I wasn’t watching it fall around me on a Tweed Ride.

I logged up my computer and played some Rift. I still wasn’t on a tweed ride.

I put a heating pad on my back because it felt a little twingey. Still not a tweed ride.

Ate a nice dinner with Ms. Roommate with steak and mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and a glass of wine. Warm. Dry. Only a known number of days left lugging the Bellysucker 9000 with me. Also not on a Tweed Ride.

Healing progress

On Friday we measured my healing process again. I would have posted about that on Friday, but the first week back at work wiped me out. I was too tired to process how I feel about my progress, let alone write coherent sentences.

Last time we measured, I’d healed a full centimeter. This week, I also healed a centimeter. Assuming my healing process stays consistent, which it is expected to, I will have the Bellysucker 9000 with me for another 4 weeks.

I’ve been told that that kind of healing process is amazing, that I’m doing spectacularly well. I’ve been told I should be very pleased with how things are going. There are people who spend over a year going to the healing center and never have more than a millimeter a week of healing progress. I’m a fantastic healer.

I talked with a friend who had a post surgical wound open up and he said it took him six months to heal up what I’m expected to heal in four weeks.

I wish I felt pleased. I feel like if I were so damned fantastic at healing, I wouldn’t be hooked up to the Bellysucker 9000 right now. I feel like an ingrate for not appreciating that some people wish they healed like I do. Parts of my belly scar that closed properly in the first place are already starting to fade back to normal.

It’s not that I don’t feel grateful. Obviously, there are people who have it much worse than I do. I understand that, but I just feel like it should have already been over. What the hell is wrong with me that I opened back up in the first place? But there’s really nothing. Just me lugging my noisy vacuum pump along with me as I’m trying to settle back into normality, only there’s no normality when the vacuum pump is chugging along arhytmically because there’s a tiny leak in the bandage I can’t find to seal off.

If it were rhythmic, I could let the pump fade into the background. It took me three pieces of extra tape after I got home to find the leak this time and get it sealed up so that the vac runs silently for the most part.

I had to find it. The noisy thing was keeping me from sleeping. I got it calmed down enough to drift off after two pieces of tape at 2:45 AM. I shut the damned thing completely up this morning. Well, mostly. It will always have a little bit of catch up because while the tape is good, it’s not hermetically bonded to my skin. The idea even sounds painful.

Monday, when we change the bandage next, that’s when the hunt for leaks will start again. It seems like it’s always something. There’s a difference between lying on a bed in the Healing Center while they’re changing the dressing and moving around in daily life.

At least I can move around and start really having my daily life again. Some of the people who are being seen in the wound center don’t have that ability yet. They’re bodies are only giving it back to them a milimeter at a time.

I wonder if this qualifies me as having a real super power?

Leaking

I only shower right before dressing changes. That way if there’s a problem (read: dressing failure), I’m already scheduled to go in for a dressing change. On off days I sponge bath and use baby wipes to stay clean.

I hate it. I want to feel safe to shower whenever I please. I don’t, though. I’m terrified of showering. I discovered my incision had broken open after a shower and every time I shower, no matter how carefully I do, I’m afraid I’m going to be patting my belly dry and come up with a towel full of blood again.

Tonight I had a mini panic. I found serious fluid on the front of my underwear as I was throwing them into the hamper after my shower tonight. My dressing has been leaking, but the vac hasn’t been alarming. In theory, it’s still okay, but call me paranoid.  I don’t trust the incision to really be healing. I don’t trust that it won’t break open.

When it first broke open, I put my hand in the wound to check to make sure that my guts weren’t falling out before I decided whether I was calling my surgeon to tell them I was going the ER or that I needed to come down to see them. It was a real risk at that point.

I don’t trust the incision to really be healing. I don’t trust that it won’t break open again. It was like living my own private horror show and until everything’s all closed up, it won’t really be over.

I had a little freak out because I showered oblivious to the fact that the dressing was leaking. Had I known, I would have reinforced things before showering. Instead, I was left with very carefully patting my belly dry and pressing down the existing dressing before reinforcing it to try to make it the 8-ish hours until my dressing change appointment.

Hopefully, I’ve done a good enough job that I won’t wake up to the unit alarming and have to do a wet to dry dressing in the middle of the night. Hopefully, I’ll actually be able to sleep instead of sitting up worrying about whether or not the Bellysucker 9000 is going to alarm.

Two days. Ten things.

Thursday

Had some trouble with strangeness with the Belly Sucker 9000. Finally found the right spot to tape on my belly to fix it.Went for my return to work appointment. Almost got smeared by traffic on my way down to Iowa City.

Approved to return to work. No restrictions. There’s some little bit of internal healing to do (so the playground is still closed), but everything else seems to be doing well, including the part of the incision that isn’t closed.

Realized I forgot my wallet at home and that I need to replace my emergency $20, so Doctor Roommate had to drive 35 miles to rescue me.

Spotted a little because of the exam. Everything’s closed and together, but not everything is done healing over. It was annoying because I don’t have any feminine supplies anymore – something about not having a uterus. Nothing like sitting and bleeding while you wait for your white knight to show up. (Dame Dr. Roommate? Is that too much? Dr. Mrs. The Monarch?)

Tried Creamy Pulled Pork Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, and Arugula Subbed spinach for arugula. Tasty.

Friday

Changed the bandage on Belly Sucker 9000. I’ve healed a full centimeter out of the bottom of the wound, the tunnel in it is closed, and the overall wound is smaller. Wound care doctor says I’m healing well. No restrictions on return to work from this side, either.

Tape for the Belly Sucker 9000 is blistering my skin. We’ve been doing things to try to protect my skin, but now we’re doing some new things to try to help protect my skin even more. I have my mom’s skin where tape is concerned.

New haircut. Pictures to follow as soon as I can get some help. I selfie poorly.

Took time to see Dale Chihuly: Venetians from the George R. Stroemple Collection before it left the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library here in town. If the exhibit comes near you, I recommend seeing it. It’s positively breathtaking.

Tonight, Doctor Roommate is running the Glo Run. She’s been told to channel her inner child’s Rainbow Brite. Doctor Roommate’s inner child killed Rainbow Brite years ago, that’s probably not really going to be a thing. I’m planning to wear my Fire Water Earth Paisley Leggings to make up for it.

And the suction continues

Not much to update here at the moment. I’ve had the Belly Sucker 9000 dressing changed three times now. Friday the Wound Care Doctor evaluates my progress and lets me know if we can continue this for another week.

Tomorrow (Thursday) I go back to my surgeon for evaluation to return to work. That appointment isn’t until late in the day.

Beyond that, I’m still struggling with fatigue and low apetite. I’ve run about halfway through my prescribed course of iron suppliments, so it’s not unexpected. I’m just crashing late in the afternoon/early in the evening – sometimes without much warning at all. (Hence crashing.)

I’m excited to read Alice Hoffman’s prequel to Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic. I enjoyed both the movie and the book Practical Magic, so I have high hopes for The Rules of Magic, since it follows the aunts from Practical Magic. I have added it to my Amazon Wish List at this point.

Officially, the rule at Skhoot Studio states no buying self gifts from October 1 until the end of the year, but I tend to start putting items on the list in September so I don’t forget them if I intended to save up for them. Sometimes that translates into things showing up as gifts during the holiday season. Sometimes, I have rewards for goal reaching after the New Year.

Belly, now with more suction

I had my first appointment with the Healing Center here in town today. They re-evaluated my surgical wound and confirmed that we could start using the Wound Vac right away. I like the Healing Center Doctor that’s in charge of my case and the nurses at the healing center seem knowledgeable and kind, both good qualities in the nursing profession.
We had a student nurse in, too. She had never gotten to see a Wound Vac before, so once again I got to help someone learn something new. That’s always a bonus.
The Wound Vac makes a soft sucking sound. Occasionally it does several of them in rapid succession. It’s no worse than if Sully were grooming and trying to use his non-existent grooming teeth. He lost them to a gum infection he had when he first came to live with us, but he still seems to get the job done. It’s just a soft slurpy sound in the background sometimes.
Mostly, though, I’m dry. I like being dry. I haven’t been dry since August 15. First, it was normal postsurgical drainage. Then it was abnormal postsurgical drainage. Then the gauze bandages soaked in antiseptic didn’t help with the whole wet and still wet feeling.
I could get used to being dry. Hopefully everything will continue on the path indicated by this auspicious start.

Boxes too heavy to lift

I’m on a 10 pound weight restriction. The Belly Sucker 9000 came in a 28 lb package that contained the suck unit and all the supplies needed to bandage for the next 30 days. I made Doctor Roommate carry it up the stairs for me.

After unpacking all the things, I won’t need to figure out how to bring all of it with me to my wound care appointment tmorrow, so that helps.

Still, I have to wonder if the people who pack and ship such things understand that they’re shipping them to people who probably aren’t allowed to pick them up.

Belly Sucker 9000

I got word today that my insurance approved the new wound therapy that my doctor (and the consulting wound care nurse) think will be beneficial. It’s called a Wound Vac (or negative pressure wound therapy) and helps a variety of different wounds heal more quickly. It’s supposed to work especially well on abdominal incisions that reopen (like mine) so I’m very hopeful that this will get me the rest of the way healed up quickly.

We’re calling it the Belly Sucker 9000, because at this point we’ve gone just a little around the bend taking care of something that looks like a raw meat hole straight into darkness where it should just be my belly. Doctor Roommate has taken to singing songs about how professional and awesome her wound packing is. Lyrics include things like:

I’m a professional belly stuffer.

Nobody stuffs bellehs better than me.

Yesterday she declared that I need to get a stop watch and time her while she packs my wound. You know, so there’s a baseline for Sabie Stuffing that can be competed against and improved upon.

I drew a hard line. No wound packing time trials with actual Sabie Belly. While it doesn’t hurt, it feels weird as hell and timing triage is JUST WRONG unless you’re part of actual war games.

Technically, this isn’t triage anymore, but the alleteration appealed to me.

Tomorrow is our last day of wound packing at home. The Belly Sucker 9000 arrives tomorrow and then I go to the Healing Center at Mercy Hospital for a wound care nurse there to apply the first wound vac bandage on Thursday. After that, they’re changed three times a week by a professional trained in wound vac therapy, so neither Doctor Roommate or I have to stare into the wound abyss anymore looking for necrotic tissue or infection.

Yay! So. Much. Yay!

Belly update – the waiting

Today I went to the doctor for another follow-up on The Surgical Incision That Didn’t Close/Reopened. This time a Wound Care Nurse (that’s a real specialty) consulted in and she agreed that healing has progressed enough to move to the next stage of wound care.

The next stage of wound care involves paperwork. There’s a therapy we’d like to move to which is very successful in cases like mine, but it requires approval from the insurance company. We’re waiting for the answer from them.

Until the answer comes back, we’re continuing with the same course: packing and changing bandages twice a day. Once I’m out of the antiseptic, I can move to wetting the packing material with sterile saline solution. If I don’t get approved for the new wound care therapy, this will be my life for the forseeable future.

In the words of Inigo Montoya, “I hate waiting.” Hopefully I’ll have some answers back tomorrow or Wednesday.

Sunday Thoughts – 20170917

  • I like bean dishes. You can cook them in the crockpot. They taste even better over the next few days, so they make great leftovers for cook ahead lunches. This week’s bean dish was a spicy baked bean pot with chorizo, bacon, onions, green peppers, and two jalapenos from the garden. It will be yummy for lunches this week.
  • The garden has been slower to start this year than usual, but it’s set to go crazy within the next two weeks. We picked tomatoes, eggplant, jalapenos, and the first real green peppers I’ve ever gotten from the garden. The green peppers that are big enough to make stuffed green peppers. I’m planning to stuff them and put them in the freezer tomorrow or Tuesday (depending on my energy level and how long things take at the doctor.
  • I have another appointment on Monday for wound care follow up. I’m hoping that we can finally move to the next stage of care, which I think is saline solution and repacking once a day. The wound care nurse is supposed to be at this appointment, so I’ll learn more then.
  • My endurance is still very uneven from surgery. I’m trying to wean myself off my afternoon nap, but I’m still finding it necessary, which throws off my ability to go straight to sleep at night. I’m writing this on the Sunday side of midnight and I feel very awake. After I finish writing, I’m going to put on Thunderstorm white noise from my tablet, and see if that works to get me to sleep.
  • I miss the way work structures a week. I hope that my return to work appointment in just under two weeks goes well even with my open wound.